While this tree has several different names due to its location in the language-rich Northern Sarvonia, it is mostly known as Arne'pherán (Styrásh Arne'pherán, lit. "Strike Tree"), as it is called by the Injerín elves. The Kuglimz, in their ever-practical way, name it the Ret'jyrl, or "Hook Tree". In both of these cases the names refer to the appearance of the tree, along with the uses to which it is put. Other human tribes and southern Sarvonians generally call it the Arnean, a variation of its Styrásh title.
Image description. An old Arne'pherán tree with its characteristic bark in front of a still young one. Picture drawn by Quellion.
Appearance. This tree
towers above many of its smaller relatives throughout the forests of
A quick-growing tree in its youth, it can reach ten
peds in height within its
first few years. By the time that it reaches full maturity it can top fifteen
height, thrusting its crown above the other evergreens. For the most part, the
Arneán'pherán is a narrow tree with its branches growing at an upward angle.
These branches start a quarter of the way up the tree's trunk and grow at
irregular intervals as they grow shorter and thicker towards the top.
The very supple branches are covered in small thorns about four nailsbreadths in length. At first they are scattered widely along the base of the branch, but as one gets closer to the end of the branch they become more closely packed, though smaller in size. This is an effective discouragement to any animals that might want to get at the fruit that it bears in late summer. While the thorns are not poisonous, they do tend to be slightly hooked in shape and when they catch the skin they are difficult to get out.
The outer bark of the Arne'pherán has flattened, interlaced ridges of greyish bark that overlaps the trunk much as scale mail does a warrior. When cut these thin ridges exude a very sticky, milky sap. There is also an inner layer of lighter gray bark that can be seen in the chinks of the overlapping ridges. Flaring outward from the base of the trunk, the tree merges with the exposed top roots of its root system, anchoring it securely to the ground. The heartwood of the tree is thick and heavy with a light brown colouration. Several days after it is cut though the wood naturally darkens to a rich brown colour with a fine straight grain to it.
Leaves on the Arnean seem to vary according to the geographical location of the tree. For example those found in the Shaded Forest have heart-shaped, waxy green leaves. They measure about ten nailsbreadths in length, and about eight at their widest point before they round out to their point. However, the leaves of more northerly Arne'pherán are about sixteen nailsbreadths in length, have an arrowhead shape and are a lighter green. Most researchers agree that this difference is due to the fact that the soil in the Shaded Forest is richer than that of more northern areas, and thus allows a healthier leaf. In all cases the leaves attach to the branch near the base of a thorn.
Much like the tulmine tree, this species of tree has both a male and a female counterpart. One of the easily identifiable differences is in the size of the flowers that they both bear. The male counterpart has a large orange flower that fans out in a rippled cone shape, growing outward from the base about four nailsbreadths in length. Its shape is roughly bell like, and instead of petals it is all of one form, with the single petal being thin and delicate. This petal is centered around a yellow stamen with pollen around it. There are three gauzy stripes of white along the outside of the orange flower, roughly dividing it into thirds, and adding a simple beauty to this bright flower. It is amazing to see this burst of colour shine out from the hedge of thorns around it. The female tree has a much smaller version of the male flower in that it is only two nailsbreadths and has only a single strip of white along the outer edge of the flower.
In the early summer the female Arne'pherán begins growing a small fruit. This fruit grows quickly for the next two months until it is larger than a warrior's gauntleted fist. Eventually the weight of the fruit bends down the supple branches that support it. The fruit is known as Séean'thú'óc ("Seenthok" in Tharian), or "circle shell" due to its circular shape and the fact that the outer skin hardens to the point that it becomes a shell for the soft fruit inside. When the fruit falls from the tree it is ripe, though because of how sour the fruit is, some people jokingly say that the Séean'thú'óc never really ripens. After the fruit is opened up one can see that it is mostly a stringy core with soft flesh surrounding it. No one has actually ever gotten the same count of the numerous seeds found in the fruit from one fruit to another, but it is estimated that there are somewhere around two hundred seeds per Séean'thú'óc.
Territory. Though the Arne'pheráns are found throughout the whole of Northern Sarvonia, they are more prevalent in several of the larger forests. The broadleaf variety is common in the Shaded Forest, while the narrow leaf variety can be found in the Cartashian Woods and the Themd’lon. In the Hovel Frond Forest there is a strange variety that is black with even more prominent thorns. It is thought that the Diorye’olealean taint on the forest has also corrupted this tree, giving birth to the variety found there. While there are several different thorny bushes found in Santharia, they are not considered related to the Arne'pherán.
Usages. Like so many of the trees found in Northern Sarvonia, the Arnean has been used in many different ways by the people that live near it.
The Kuglim’ura, or plains tribes, cut down the branches and twine them together to create a temporary corral for their prized Kevz’pye, or quick horses. They use it to discourage the horses from running off, and also to keep thieves from stealing the horses. Amongst the Kuglim’ura there is a saying for thievery, “First try pricked, second try killed.” It is well to remember that one does not trifle with a Kuglim and his horse.
The Seéean'thú'óc can be cut apart and the seeds are then roasted and eaten. The pulp is usually discarded, though it can be fed to pigs or other domestic animals. The hard shell can be scooped out and after air-drying makes a good container for grains, flours, or other non-liquid substances.
The Kuglimz named this tree Ret'jyrl, or "Hook tree", not only for the hook shaped thorns that cover the branches, but also for a use of the tree. Members of the Kuglimz'ura, or "Plain Tribes", use a sturdy knife to hand cut the thorns off of the tree. These thorns are then attached to a thick strip of bright fabric, when this is done you have a handy Kuglimz fishing line.
To produce a waterfast glue, numerous cuts are made to the ridged bark, allowing plenty of the milky sap to be collected. This sap is collected and boiled along with several other herbs to create a strong adhesive which can be used in many different ways.
The dark ridge pieces are used in producing dyestuffs. These harvested pieces are boiled for several days, and at the end of that time a thin brown dye is made. With the addition of other ingredients and continued boiling a rich brown dye is made. However, it must be noted that too much harvesting of these protective ridge pieces can cause the death of an Arne'pherán, so care must be used.
Some would say all of the aforementioned usages are quite important and enough for a single tree, but this is a tree that just keeps giving, well, at least to the fine Injerín crafters. Injerín bow makers take the firm, yet flexible branches of the Arne'pherán, strip the thorns and spend weeks creating their formidable long bows. No one else makes such fine bows, with the range and accuracy of these weapons.
At the end of summer, when the flowers of both the male and female Arnean are in
full bloom, the pollen that surrounds the stamen of the male flower is released
with the blowing wind. Upon the
wind the pollen floats until it finds one
of the female flowers. After the female flower is pollinated it begins the
process of creating a fruit. This fruit grows for the next two months, until it
has ripened in the fall. It then falls off the tree and decomposes on the
ground. What seeds are not scavenged by small animals will find their way into
the dirt, there to germinate for the next several months until they begin
sprouting in the spring.
Myth/Lore. The Injerín have an interesting way of naming things; some say that they have been influenced by their association with the Kuglimz, for in some cases they show a direct, yet humorous approach to naming things. The translation for Arne'pherán is “Strike Tree”, for which scholars claim there are two separate reasons. First, the bows that the Injerín are famous for are made from the wood of this tree - thus the trees are used to strike at people in the form of a weapon. Second, when the wind blows, the supple branches with their heavy thorns can whip around, striking out around them. It is not uncommon to find a dead bird or unwary small animal still impaled on one of the branches when a strong wind has come through the area. Soon though another wind will come and dislodge the creature. While animals do try to be wary of the tree, the profuse number of them along with the unpredictable way it might strike still catches animals unaware.
The Injerín are rather quiet about the myth of the Arne'pherán, and thus only fragments of it are known. What can definitely be said is that once there was a great warrior amongst the Injerín who slew countless orcs defending the forest from their encroachment. However, when his time came to pass his guardianship along he would not do so. Rather he opted to stay - while this was not unheard of, it was considered unusual. Most strange about this Injerín is that he was not only incredible at slaying orcs, but also seemed to relish it. A section of one story runs as follows: “His almond eyes looked skyward with rapturous expression, his lips were twisted into a frightening smile. He had his arms raised upwards in joyous celebration, and beneath his gore-streaked boots was a hill of dead.”
This excerpt just goes to show how uncommon this behavior was considered. Some say he single-handedly turned back an invasion of orcs, others that he single-handedly invaded the orcs. The truth is not known - however when his mighty battles were done he came back mortally wounded and beseeched Eyasha for her blessing for saving her people. It is said that she took pity upon him, for his valor was unmatched except by the love he had for his people. So, she turned him into an Arne'pherán so that he might ever guard the Shaded Forest and be a thorn in any invaders' sides.
Information provided by Drogo